Monster flower blooming in Switzerland

April 25, 2011 • 4:45 am

Several readers have informed me of a rare botanical event happening in Basel, Switzerland.  You should go immediately to have a gander at a very rare—and ephemeral—flower shown on a webcam at the University of Basel.

It’s an Amorphophallus titanum from Sumatra, loosely translated as “giant misshapen penis,” a concupiscent but accurate descriptor.  Isn’t it lovely?

This species has the world’s tallest flower structure, reaching up to 3 meters.  It flowers only very rarely, though, so this event in Switzerland is a must-see.

Unfortunately, like the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, it smells like a decaying corpse.  That’s to attract flies and beetles which, thinking it’s a dead mammal, come to feed—and pollinate it as a byproduct.

The flower remains open for only a day or two, though it takes several weeks to grow. The Basel site gives time-lapse photographs, showing the flower beginning to appear at the end of March.

You can see other pictures of a 2009 bloom here, from which these pictures were taken.

26 thoughts on “Monster flower blooming in Switzerland

  1. Titanum indeed.

    I wonder if the namer of this species was carrying on the tradition of Linnaeus (founder of modern taxonomy) with the salacious name? Linnaeus was a bit obsessed with sex by all accounts, even naming one genus of plants Clitoria apparently.

  2. Thanks for the botanical post Jerry. It is an amazing “flower.” But if I can be a botanical pendant for moment – that large structure is really not a flower but a collection of much smaller flowers (technically a “Spadix”). So Raflessia really is larger in all senses.

  3. We had a monster like that here in Fairchild Gardens (Miami) a couple of years ago. Not Quite as large maybe, but big. .

  4. There is an A. titanum in bloom at Ohio State University right now, though today is probably the last day of bloom. It too has a webcam. You can see the single, tree-sized, heavily divided leaf of another individual in the background with a yellow sign on it.

    1. Does it have a nickname?
      The plant has been dubbed “Woody” after the legendary OSU football coach Woody Hayes, also a rare breed.

      Yeah, right…


      Great link! Thanks!

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